(Photo by © Netflix)
If you’re still posting memes and reading everything you can about Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, and the colorful characters of the quarantine mega-hit Tiger King, you might be looking for your next off-the-rails true-crime fix. Not much can match the wild episodic documentary series following America’s eccentric “big cat” owners, but this list should scratch your itch for more mayhem.
If you’re looking for more twists you won’t see coming – which you got in basically every episode of Tiger King – we have the documentaries Tickled and Evil Genius for you. At first glance, Tickled looks to be a curious documentary about “competitive tickling,” while Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist seems like a clever whodunnit investigation of a bizarre bank robbery/murder. In both cases, though, you will be shocked on multiple occasions before the credits roll – these movies are not what you think.
Netflix’s Don’t F**k With Cats and HBO’s I Love You, Now Die have a similar vibe to Tiger King, in some ways, but the stories are more somber and even more disturbing. If it’s the unbelievable true-crime aspect of the doc that had you hooked, also check out Conversations With a Killer, or Voyeur.
We didn’t limit our picks to docs: narrative films with big plot twists can also fill your Tiger King void. If by chance you haven’t seen or read anything about Sunshine, Cabin in the Woods, or Moon, these three sci-fi/horror movies go places you won’t expect and provide the juicy shock value you’re looking for. Trust us and please don’t read anything before you see them – it’s worth it.
If you are looking for more bizarre/non-traditional love stories, check out the documentary Crazy Love, ’80s rom-com Maude + Micki, HBO’s 2000s polygamy drama Big Love, or the criminally underrated Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Meanwhile, the Johnny Knoxville-produced documentary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia is not about romance, but it does center on a family (“The Whites”) that would feel right at home with Joe Exotic and this cavalcade of eccentric friends. It’s a unique insight into an oft-overlooked part of America and avoids caricature. (And the music is great.)
Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin was none too pleased with her portrayal on Tiger King. A vocal critic of the private ownership of big cats, Baskin assumed she was participating in an exposé documentary like the Oscar-nominated Blackfish, which focused on a killer whale at SeaWorld and the question of whether such creatures should be held in captivity. If you felt Tiger King should have dived a bit deeper into the animal abuse aspect of its story, Blackfish would be the one to check out along with The Cove, which documents dolphin hunting in Japan. Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man is another animal-focused doc to add to your queue – it’s not about abuse but centers on an eccentric animal enthusiast.
Speaking of eccentricity… There are plenty of compelling documentaries and features about cult-like leaders who attract bands of loyal followers. If you’re looking for more stories like that, with insights into the appeal of certain personalities, try Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Believe, Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic feature The Master (partly inspired by Scientology’s founder), and The Queen of Versailles (the less we tell you, the better).
For now, though, devote yourselves to this guide and check out 20 films and shows we think Tiger King fans will love.